New House push arises to ax health act

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL - In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Alan Fram of The As­so­ci­ated Press and by Carolyn Y. John­son of The Washington Post.

WASHINGTON — Hard­line con­ser­va­tives be­gan an up­hill fight Fri­day to force a fresh House vote this fall on eras­ing much of Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s health care law with­out an im­me­di­ate re­place­ment.

The ef­fort by the House Free­dom Cau­cus ap­pears to have no chance of pass­ing Congress. The GOP-led Se­nate turned down a sim­i­lar re­peal-only bill last month, and top House Repub­li­cans have shown lit­tle in­ter­est in re-fight­ing a health care bat­tle they were able to put aside af­ter their cham­ber ap­proved leg­is­la­tion in May.

With the party’s re­peal ef­fort col­laps­ing last month in the Se­nate, the push gives law­mak­ers a chance to show con­ser­va­tive vot­ers they’ve not sur­ren­dered. It also pro­vides a chance to call at­ten­tion to Repub­li­cans who’ve pledged to tear down Obama’s law but haven’t voted to do so with Don­ald Trump in the White House.

“It’s not about call­ing out any­one, it’s about do­ing what we said,” said Rep. Jim Jor­dan, R-Ohio, a Free­dom Cau­cus leader. “And I do think peo­ple de­serve to see if their mem­ber of Congress is go­ing to do what they cam­paigned on.”

The con­ser­va­tives filed a pe­ti­tion Fri­day call­ing for a House vote on dis­man­tling Obama’s law that would not take ef­fect un­til Jan­uary 2019. They say that would give Congress time to en­act a re­place­ment and pres­sure Democrats to cooperate, a premise Democrats who op­pose the re­peal ef­fort re­ject.

To force a House vote, con­ser­va­tives need sig­na­tures of 218 law­mak­ers, a ma­jor­ity. But many GOP mod­er­ates op­pose an­nulling the law pop­u­larly called Oba­macare with­out a re­place­ment they’d sup­port, and all Democrats are op­posed.

Asked how Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., views the con­ser­va­tives’ push, spokesman Ash­Lee Strong said, “The House has al­ready passed a plan to re­peal and re­place Oba­macare.”

This week has also fea­tured an ex­tra­or­di­nary se­ries of crit­i­cisms by Trump against Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, R-Ky., over the Se­nate crash of the health care drive.

Af­ter tweet­ing his com­plaints against McCon­nell, Trump fu­eled con­ser­va­tives’ calls for McCon­nell to re­sign if he can’t push health care, tax and in­fra­struc­ture leg­is­la­tion through his cham­ber. McCon­nell had said Trump had “ex­ces­sive ex­pec­ta­tions” about how quickly Congress could pass com­pli­cated bills.

Sep­a­rately Fri­day, health in­surer An­them an­nounced that it would pull out of the Af­ford­able Care Act mar­ket­place in Vir­ginia — the lat­est com­pany to scale back its par­tic­i­pa­tion in an in­surance mar­ket that has been desta­bi­lized by un­cer­tainty about the fu­ture and pro­nounce­ments by Trump that it is doomed to fail.

In a state­ment, the com­pany said the busi­ness of sell­ing in­surance to in­di­vid­u­als “re­mains volatile” and cited “con­tin­ual changes and un­cer­tainty in fed­eral op­er­a­tions, rules and guid­ance.”

Vir­ginia in­surance com­mis­sioner Jacqueline Cun­ning­ham in a state­ment called the news “un­wel­come.”

“An­them HealthKeep­ers cur­rently cov­ers ap­prox­i­mately 206,000 peo­ple in Vir­ginia’s in­di­vid­ual health in­surance mar­ket,” Cun­ning­ham said.

The de­par­ture will leave five in­sur­ers in the state’s mar­ket­places for next year, ac­cord­ing to the Kaiser Fam­ily Foun­da­tion.

Trump has been threat­en­ing for months to stop pay­ing fed­eral sub­si­dies called cost-shar­ing re­duc­tions that in­sur­ers have said are cru­cial to the func­tion­ing of the mar­ket­places. Those pay­ments are pro­jected to amount to $7 bil­lion this year and $10 bil­lion next year. An­them said the lack of clar­ity on fed­eral cost-shar­ing re­duc­tion sub­si­dies and the re­turn of a tax on in­surance cov­er­age played a role in its de­ci­sion.

“As a re­sult, the con­tin­ued un­cer­tainty makes it dif­fi­cult for us to of­fer in­di­vid­ual health plans statewide in Vir­ginia,” An­them’s state­ment said, an­nounc­ing it would leave the mar­ket­places, where peo­ple can buy in­surance plans with the help of fed­eral sub­si­dies.

An­them joins two other ma­jor in­sur­ers that have left the Vir­ginia mar­ket­places for 2018: Unit­edHealth­care and Aetna.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.